This summer, I was able to sign bills into law that will change the lives of Hawaiʻi residents for the better. From housing, healthcare, and education to digital equity and women’s criminal justice reform, the new laws will bring changes that have been called “historic,” thanks to the efforts of many people.
$600 million for Hawaiian Home Lands
On July 11, I signed into law HB2511, marking the most consequential allocation of funding for the Hawaiian Homes Commission in 100 years. It has always been one of my priorities to be able to reduce the waitlist for beneficiaries. During the past eight years, the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands has initiated new rules for subsistence agriculture lots, rental projects, and changes to allow beneficiaries to choose the best available options for them. I also signed SB3041, which included $328 million as part of the Kalima case settlement. As a state, we must continue to provide funds to support the delivery of Hawaiian Home Lands to its beneficiaries. Currently, DHHL is seeking native Hawaiian beneficiary input on its draft general plan, which establishes statewide policies that guide land management and programs over the next two decades. Homesteaders and applicants on the DHHL Waiting List can submit their comments online or in-person at the Hilo or Waimea open house scheduled on August 8 and 9 respectively. The deadline for input is September 21, 2022.
More doctors, nurses, especially for the neighbor islands
If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that the state needs more doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals. On July 7, I signed two bills into law to address the critical shortage of physicians statewide. SB2657 will help retain more graduates from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa School of Medicine by funding more medical residency training, especially on the neighbor islands and in partnership with Veteran Affairs. SB2597 appropriates funds for the Hawaiʻi State Loan Repayment Program in exchange for work commitments in geographically underserved areas across the state. The UH System will also receive nearly $2 million to expand nursing programs statewide.
A brave new world for a more connected, sustainable future
Since day one, my administration has been developing ways to make Hawaiʻi and its people more resilient for the future. This has included everything from expanded broadband infrastructure to digital literacy training, remote work options, and a virtual marketplace for local products. To foster a more sustainable visitor industry, the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority has been focusing on regenerative stewardship, with messaging for residents and visitors alike and community-based Destination Management Action Plans to mitigate over-tourism. We also expanded resources for emerging, high-demand jobs, like in clean energy, health, IT, and green jobs, as well as remote work options through new platforms.
Mahalo for your continued cooperation. Please stay safe and be well!
David Y. Ige
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